Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer diagnosed in the US today. Over the last 30 years, more people have been diagnosed with skin cancer than all of the other types of cancer combined, and experts predict that one in five Americans will receive a diagnosis of skin cancer during their lifetime. Despite its prevalence, cancer still remains one of the most terrifying illnesses, and receiving a diagnosis of cancer can be an extremely distressing experience. Cancers that are detected early are far easier to treat than those in the late stages, so being aware of the signs of skin cancer is the best way to protect yourself against the disease.
What Is Skin Cancer?
Skin cancer is a type of cancer that develops in one of the skin cells. There are different types of skin cancer that grow in the various cells contained within the top layer of the skin known as the epidermis.
Different Types of Skin Cancer
The three most common types of skin cancer are:
Squamous Cell Carcinoma – Around 20% of skin cancers are due to squamous cell carcinoma. This type of cancer develops on areas of the skin that are regularly exposed to the sun or from another type of skin condition known as actinic keratosis. Squamous cell carcinoma presents as red, scaly patches on the skin that are often raised.
Basal Cell Carcinoma – Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of cancer in any part of the body. This type of cancer cell does not generally spread to other parts of the body unless it goes unnoticed for a long period of time. Basal cell carcinoma is characterized by raised pink bumps that can easily bleed after a minor injury.
Melanoma – Melanoma is less common than squamous and basal cell carcinoma but is much more dangerous due to the speed with which it can spread.
Melanoma presents as a black or brown growth on the skin that is often asymmetrical and without a clearly defined border. Moles are a benign form of tumor that resemble melanoma, and doctors advise people with a lot of moles to frequently check them for signs of change. Although melanoma is a more serious form of skin cancer, it can still be treated successfully if caught early.
Some other rare types of skin cancer include Kaposi sarcoma, Merkel cell carcinoma and cutaneous lymphoma, but these forms are extremely rare and account for less than 1% of all skin cancer diagnoses.
How to Identify Skin Cancer
It is important to closely examine your skin for any new or changing moles or growths on a regular basis. When checking your body for skin cancer, doctors advise the following ABCDE rule:
Asymmetry – Healthy moles should be round and symmetrical.
Border – A clearly defined border is common in healthy skin growths and should not be blurred or faded.
Color – Pay attention to the color of your moles. Any that contain several shades of black, blue or brown should be examined by a dermatologist.
Diameter – Any moles larger than a ¼ inch in diameter may need to be looked at by a professional.
Evolving – If you have a mole or skin growth that is changing in shape, size or color, make an appointment with one of our trained dermatologists immediately for further examination.
What Treatment Is Available?
Your dermatologist will remove a small section of any suspicious mole or growth and send it to a lab to check for cancerous cells. If cancer is detected, then complete removal of the affected area is the best known cure.
If you are worried about skin cancer, then it is essential that you seek professional advice immediately. Our professional dermatologists will examine your skin and perform a biopsy if necessary to determine whether or not the mole or growth is cancerous. Call our center today to arrange a free consultation with a dermatologist to discuss your own personal treatment plan.